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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

What Lies In The Woods

Narrator: Karissa Vacker

ISBN: 9781250882448

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Publication Date: 01/17/2023

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

They were eleven when they sent a killer to prison. They were heroes . . . but they were liars.

Kate Alice Marshall's What Lies in the Woods is a thrilling novel about friendship, secrets, betrayal, and lies—and having the courage to face the past.

Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder. They called it the Goddess Game. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes.

And they were liars.

For decades, the friends have kept a secret worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what happened in the woods—no matter how dangerous the truth is

My Review

Kate Alice Marshall, author of young adult and middle-grade novels, ventures into the adult fiction world with her first adult mystery/thriller — WHAT LIES IN THE WOODS.

They were eleven when they sent a killer to prison.

They were heroes . . . but they were liars.

Three girls.

Naomi Shaw

Cassidy (Cass)

Olivia (Liv)

The three childhood friends invented games and imagined mythical, fantasy, and magical adventures. One such game was the Goddess Game, where they pretended to be goddesses from Greek mythology.

Persephone: According to Greek Mythology, "Persephone," the queen of the underworld, was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest and fertility. She was also called Kore, which means "maiden" and grew up to be a lovely girl attracting the attention of many gods.

The girls had a secret in the woods. Their imagination. Their games. What happened in the woods?

One summer, their lives would change. Naomi was stabbed seventeen times. A brutal act of violence in the woods—leaves Naomi fighting for her life. They were all traumatized.

Relying on the words of the two girls, she testified in a trial that convicted and sent the attacker, Stahl (a serial killer), to prison for the rest of his life.

However, they lied. Now twenty-two years later, the killer dies in prison. The three friends unite in the hometown of Chester. Fueled by guilt and their secrets, they each have their demons.

The serial killer's son thinks they sent the wrong person to prison.

Liv struggles with mental health issues and wants to reveal the truth. She is mentally and emotionally distraught, guilt-ridden, suicidal, unbalanced, and on edge. Will she crack?

Naomi is the one with the scars. She is disfigured. She is unsure who the attacker was and questions her memory since she was so distraught at the time. Did she believe what the girls told her to say at the time?

Cass, the Mayor's daughter and single mother, wants to ignore and forget about it. She does not want to dredge up the past. However, is she protecting her brother, Oscar?

Oscar and Naomi have a complex past. Cody used to hang out with Oscar. He was the hero who found and rescued Naomi. He is married and a State Representative. He's always looking out for Naomi. But was he the hero?

Ethan, a podcaster, turns up to interview the victims for a story. Can they trust him?

Who wants to stop Naomi from discovering the truth?

The old fear still burns in her mind. What happened in the woods? Who was the attacker, and their motive? Slowly, the secrets of that summer day are unraveled.

WHAT LIES IN THE WOODS is a slow-burning mystery and complex labyrinth of secrets, lies, childhood fantasy mythology, and murder set in the Pacific Northwest.

Chilling, atmospheric, and haunting! Not a real page-turner or thriller for me. More of a murder mystery with many red herrings. The novel explores how trauma and events from childhood carry over into adulthood.

The novel has received some excellent reviews, and am sure it appeals to a specific audience; however, I felt the book was more of a YA mystery and pretty drawn out. The second half of the book does move faster than the first half. There is a lot of drama typical of young girls, and I, unfortunately, am not into Greek Goddesses, Persephone, fantasies, myths, rituals, sacrifices, the paranormal, etc. I guessed the real killer early on; however, I was still surprised by some other happenings.

AUDIOBOOK: However, I listened to the audiobook narrated by Karissa Vacker (one of my favorite narrators), and she delivered an engaging and entertaining performance for all voices.

🔉 Audiobook rating: 5 Stars

📕 Book: 3 stars

💌 Overall rating: 4🌟Stars

A special thank you to #MacmillanAudio and #NetGalley for an e-ALC in exchange for an honest review. #SMPInfluencers My only issue was the audiobook kept stopping throughout the book.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars

Pub Date: Jan 17, 2023


“Shines an incisive light on the secrets of a small-town community...Great writing and boldly drawn characters bring a terrifying tale to all-too-vivid life.”

—Kirkus, starred review

“What Lies In the Woods is a gorgeous fever dream of a novel about the dangers lurking in the hearts and imaginations of little girls. Kate Alice Marshall deftly charts a winding path through her creepy woods, doubling back and changing course to build a labyrinth of secrets and lies in which I was delighted to lose myself for hours. Hands down, it's the best thriller I've read in a long, long time.”

―Chandler Baker, bestselling author of The Husbands

“Utterly riveting. What Lies in the Woods is a stunner―dark, unflinching, and as twisty and sharp as a tangle of thorns.”

―Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of The House Across the Lake

“I loved everything about this beautifully written and impossible to put down book. I was hooked from the first clever and deliciously dark page and couldn't stop reading. Readers will love What Lies in the Woods, an exciting new voice in the genre.”

―Alice Feeney, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Darker

“Marshall explores the complicated dynamics of childhood friendships and the powerful effect that memory has in shaping narratives…In a novel filled with emotional depth and convincing red herrings, Marshall delivers a propulsive mystery about trust, secrets, and friendships.”

―Booklist, starred review

“A haunting tale of betrayal, heartbreak, and redemption told in poetic prose with deeply layered characters. Marshall’s master storytelling is gripping and pulls you in with a magnetic force that never lets go.”

―Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

“Masterfully diabolical plot layered with red herrings…We’re in the hands of a phenomenal storyteller…Marshall shows she can’t put a foot wrong with this confident debut in the adult thriller genre, spinning an intricately compelling tale of friendship and magic, sorrow and betrayal wrapped up in a suspenseful murder mystery.”

―The Nerd Daily

“A powerful psychological thriller…This emotionally involving tale of friendship, betrayal, and redemption leaves an indelible impression.”

―Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Kate Alice Marshall is the author of the young adult novels I Am Still Alive, Rules for Vanishing, and Our Last Echoes, as well as the Secrets of Eden Eld middle-grade series. She lives outside of Seattle, where she spends her time playing board games, tending a chaotic vegetable garden, and wrangling dogs and children. WEBSITE



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